Thomas Warren, guitarist and lead singer of the Sweet Chariots, arguably South Florida's best (and undoubtedly its hardest-working) rockabilly band, has passed away. Warren was on his way home from a gig when he was involved in a car accident, Friday, November 28, around 12:45 a.m. in Indian River County.
According to the FHP, one of the vehicles was traveling in the wrong direction, though they cannot yet confirm which one it was. Both drivers died at the scene. Warren had just performed at the Kilted Mermaid in Vero Beach, and the bar's owner, Rick Norry, told NBC 5 that Warren had not been drinking at the show. Warren was 24 years old.
Anyone who caught one of the Sweet Chariots' innumerable sets over the years will attest to the fact that Warren was a positively electric performer, a student of everything that was great about the primordial rock 'n' roll of the '50s. He was also a genuinely nice guy who smiled easy and always brought up the mood wherever he went.
Warren was the sort of rare, gifted entertainer who operated as a conduit for musical energies to escape. He always made it look deceptively easy and could win over absolutely any crowd before him -- from the disinterested townies swilling and milling at Fat Cat's in Downtown Fort Lauderdale to the kustom kulture devotees at the hot rod shows around the state who ate up the Chariots' high-energy retro rock.
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Warren's former musical sparring partner and ex-Sweet Chariots drummer, Freddy Schwenk, had the following to say regarding the loss:
"Thomas and I had the most interesting relationship. One that can be closely compared to a romantic relationship. Everything from the hot and heavy honeymoon phase to the 'I don't really know what happened' abrupt ending.
Thomas was one of the best friends I ever had. For a few years, we did almost everything together. I met him at a show and we connected immediately. Soon we began writing music together, and it became clear to both of us that we were musical soul mates. Everything just made perfect sense. We built a band and played anywhere and everywhere that would have us -- and made a living doing it! It was a wild adventure, with as much downs as ups. There were arguments, blowouts on I-95, canceled shows, multiple band member changes, bounced checks from promoters, etc.
There was also success, inside jokes, amazing shows, and a lot of laughs. No situation was bad enough to not be able to somehow turn into a joke and then laugh about. I'll always miss telling people that Slip Mahoney was our dad, which would infuriate him. I'll miss having a "who can set up their gear faster" race. I always won, mainly because I kept finding ways to use a smaller drum kit.
Regrettably, we haven't spoken since I moved to Nashville in September. Like a lot of great relationships, ours had just run its course, I guess. Maybe it was my fault, maybe it was his -- doesn't matter. He's gone now. I wish we would've fixed whatever kept us from keeping in touch, texting inside jokes, or talking about how bad Hank III's new records are. I'm glad I got him for a few years, though. He was my little brother. We learned a lot from each other. I'm still holding out for one last show."
If you want to offer his family support in the wake of this tragedy, visit this site.